As if Wikipedia’s editorial shenanigans were not already exposed, an extra-ordinary revelation recently made by a Reddit user once again brings to fore the malpractices carried out by the organisation. According to this disconcerting discovery, almost all the articles on Scots Wikipedia, approximately 60,000 of them, were written, edited or overseen by a single user with a poor understanding of the language.
A Reddit user had alleged that every single article on Scots Wikipedia was written by a single person, presumably an American with little to no knowledge about Scots, a West Germanic language variety spoken in Scotland and parts of Ulster in Ireland. He also said that most articles on Scots Wikipedia are written in the English language with just some Scots words thrown between, and they are not written in native Scots Language.
One-third of the total article on Scots Wikipedia written by a single user with no understanding about Scots
The Reddit user had chanced upon the discovery while checking the edit history of one article. The Redditor claims that Wikipedia User with the username AmaryllisGardener has written more than over 23,000 articles on the Scots Wikipedia and done well over 200,000 edits in six years. The Redditor also alleges that since 2013 the Wikipedia user, who lives in North Carolina, has simply written articles that are written in English, throwing around some Scots words here and there haphazardly.
As per Redditor who exposed AmaryllisGardener, an admin of the Scots Wikipedia, the Wikipedia user was responsible for over one-third of Scots Wikipedia articles in 2018, they have since then stopped updating their milestones. The Reddit user suspects that about almost all articles written on Scots Wikipedia in the span of 2018 to 2020 could be attributed to the aforementioned user.
“I find it insulting that you would pass this off as our native language which you clearly don’t speak,” the user wrote. “Again, as a native Scot and native speaker, no one where uses this site as it isn’t close to resembling any Scots language. The language you use here is English with some changes in spelling and passing it off as the real deal harms the already derogatory view of Scots languages.”
The Reddit user went on to allege that even common elements of Scots that are found in Scots English like “syne”, “an aw” have been misused by the Wikipedia admin. The user asserts that sometimes entire English phrases and sentences are copy-pasted without any attempt at “Scottifying” them. Scots Grammar is also hardly used by the Wikipedia admin, with only Scots words randomly inserted in the sentences.
It is interesting to note that the user page of AmaryllisGardener informs that his native language is English, and he has medium level proficiency in Scots.
Reddit user accuses Wikipedia administrator of engaging in cultural vandalism by purveying mangled Scots
“There is almost no difference from standard English and very few Scots words and forms are employed,” the Reddit user lamented. “What they seem to have done is write out the article out in English, then look up each word individually using the Online Scots Dictionary (they mention this dictionary specifically on their talk page), then replace the English word with the first result, and if they couldn’t find a word, they just let it be.”
The Redditor pointed to use of “an aw’ in Scots for the English word “also”. While “an aw” cannot always be used in place of “also” in Scots, the Wikipedia user seemed to have used it uniformly in all their mangled translations. When someone highlighted this error to them on their talk page earlier, the primary administrator for the Scots Language Wikipedia for 7 years responded: “Never thought about that, I’ll keep that in mind”.
Levelling serious allegations against Wikipedia, the Reddit user alleged that the organisation had engaged in “cultural vandalism on a hitherto unprecedented scale”. He added that the Wikipedia page has done more damage to the Scots language than anyone else in history. The sheer volume of the mangled Scots peddled by the Wikipedia admin, the Reddit user alleges, would drown any sincere attempts made by others at uploading content in genuine Scots.
“Potentially tens of millions of people now think that Scots is a horribly mangled rendering of English rather than being a language or dialect of its own, all because they were exposed to a mangled rendering of English being called Scots by this person and by this person alone,” the Reddit user sharply noted.
Wikipedia admin has no problem if controversial edits are removed
The revelation caused a massive outcry on the Scots Wikipedia, with editors taking various stands. Some said that the entire Scots Wikipedia site should be deleted and it should be rebuild from scratch, while others suggested that only the AmaryllisGardener should be deleted. Some others suggested that every edit in the site since 2012 should be deleted, retaining the older ones, and rewriting the deleted articles. One admin on the site warned that if the entire site is deleted, it will be impossible to build it again. Some editors also defended AmaryllisGardener, saying that he made the edits only in good faith, and he had no evil intention.
Replying to the debate, the user at the centre of the controversy said, “Honestly, I don’t mind if you revert all of my edits, delete my articles, and ban me from the wiki for good. I’ve already found out that my “contributions” have angered countless people, and to me that’s all the devastation I can be given, after years of my thinking I was doing good (and yes, obsessively editing). I was only a 12-year-old kid when I started, and sometimes when you start something young, you can’t see that the habit you’ve developed is unhealthy and unhelpful as you get older. I don’t care about defending myself, I only want to stop being harassed on my social medias (and to stop my other friends who have nothing to do with the wiki from being harassed as well). Whether peace can be achieved by scowiki being kept like it is or extensively reformed to wipe my influence from it makes no difference to me now that I know that I’ve done no good anyway.”